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Dear Berkeley Community,
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First of all, we want to express our gratitude for the overwhelming support of Measure E1, the special tax that funds the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program, which passed with 88.3% of the vote, a record level of support. We are grateful to the legions of volunteers—parents, teachers, students, staff, alumni, friends and neighbors who helped create the measure and get the word out to the voters about this crucial support for our schools. To quote Ty Alper, our Board Vice President, Berkeley voters understand “that public education is the cornerstone of our democracy and our schools are the lifeblood of our community.” With the renewal of BSEP funding, Berkeley voters are investing in our children, our community, and the future of our nation.
Even as we celebrate this local success, as well as the passage of Proposition 55 which continues a crucial state source of education funding, these results come in the context of a national election with ramifications for how many of our children and families feel about their safety, well-being and future prospects. We’ve already heard from many in our community that they are experiencing sleepless nights, fearful children and parents, and a range of responses, from numbness to despondence or angry outbursts.
As educators, counselors, and community members, we need to support our children and each other through what may be a traumatic time for many, and in particular those who have felt targeted and marginalized by divisive rhetoric and actions during this election cycle—black families, immigrant families, Muslim families, women, the LGBTQ community, the disabled—the list goes on.
The School Board and BUSD are currently eliciting suggestions from the community about the best ways to address overcrowding in the elementary schools. Suggestions can be sent to the superintendent, Donald Evans, at ; you can also cc Josh Daniels, School Board Chair, at . They hope to “put everything on the table,” and they are looking for both short-term (for next year) and long-term solutions.
On Wednesday, November 5th, the Board will hold a special session to present and discuss the various possible solutions. They are hoping for community feedback before that meeting, so they can choose strategies as quickly as possible after the meeting.
Hello fellow PTAers,
I know some of you from past interactions about schools issues. For those of you I have not yet met, my name is Joshua Room. I am the former PTA Co-President at Malcolm X, and in my “emeritus” role I have become actively involved in the school crowding issue (on behalf of Malcolm X). You may have seen my op-ed on this issue on Berkeleyside on the first day of school.
In any event, members of the MX community continue to engage in dialogue with members of the School Board, the Superintendent, the PTA Council, and others, about the demographic “surge” that has so crowded Berkeley schools, including MX. We fully recognize that MX is not alone in feeling this way, and would like to coordinate as much as possible with other schools.
To that end, I want to be sure all of you are aware that the October 8 School Board meeting (7:30 pm at 2020 Bonar Street) will be the first of a series of meetings the Board is planning to have on assessing the crowding issue and making some sort of plan, first for the expected (further) increase in enrollment expected next year, and then for the longer term. We (MX) are planning to have a presence there, and would love to coordinate with everyone. Continue reading “MX PTA: 10/8 Board Mtg on Overcrowding” »
BALSA is a relatively new group working in close collaboration with BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans and Director of Special Projects and Programs Pat Saddler. Our focus is on supporting the social-emotional and academic needs of advanced learners (whether or not they have been formally GATE-identified), creating new opportunities for staff professional development around differentiation, building new opportunities for collaboration (especially with UC Berkeley), and reaching out to populations historically underrepresented in the world of gifted education.
This year, BALSA is sponsoring a free speaker series, Continue reading “BALSA for Advanced Learner Advocacy” »